HomeRegional NewsAfricaSmall hydro project boosts mini-grid impact

Small hydro project boosts mini-grid impact

The award-winning Rubagabaga Hydropower Plant, a 445kW grid-connected, run-of-the-river project located in the Northern Province of Rwanda, has made a very large impact on the local and regional communities by bringing renewable energy, jobs, and improved livelihood to thousands of households.

With the assistance of the EEP Africa donor fund, East African Power signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the privatised Rwandan utility, Energy Utility Corporation Ltd (EUCL), and a Concession Agreement (CA) with the Ministry of Infrastructure in Rwanda to develop the first hydropower project implemented in East Africa using a containerised turbine and generator.

This article first appeared in ESI Africa Issue 3-2019.
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Built almost entirely using simple manpower with little mechanical intervention, this project gives credit to the innovative and resourceful nature of the Rwandan people. In addition to the 445kW delivered to the national grid, Rubagabaga has created more than 1,000 jobs over the span of its life thus far.

The ongoing introduction of energy linked directly to innovative, locally-initiated industries creates a dynamic and diverse economy, and a sustainably healthy community with the power to impact Rwanda on a national scale. Dan Klinck, MD of East African Power says it is their policy as developers to establish communityserving projects wherever a successful hydropower plant has been developed. “What’s unique about this project is that it is a public-private-community partnership,” he explains.

“It is one thing to build a project that just hooks up the line and adds power capacity to the utility. As a company, we really focused in on what it would do for the community and its productive-use equipment, its industrial park, its community library, its agricultural centre of excellence – it wasn’t just power to line up the grid. This project was something that could bring the community together and make a difference. This is what we’re most excited about.”

The Rubagabaga Hydropower Project recently won the prestigious African Power, Energy & Water Industry Award in the category of Small-Scale Sustainable Energy Project (under 5MW) during African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa in Cape Town in May.

After receiving the award an elated Klinck was asked what his message to the industry was: “Focus on the people: in the end it is about fighting poverty through access to electricity. Whether your focus is to develop grid connected or off-grid projects, you’re doing what you can, where you are located, with the resource you have available. I think East African Power takes that practical approach to address the energy landscape. The industry needs to focus on getting affordable, modern electricity to everybody in Africa. That is what we are very passionate about doing.” ESI

Hear more energy success stories in the East African region at the Future Energy East Africa conference, taking place at the KICC in Nairobi on 17–18 September 2019.

Download the programme here: www.future-energy-eastafrica.com